Outdoor Air Quality and Health and the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI)

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Outdoor air pollution plays a significant role in impacting health. Exposure to outdoor air pollution has been associated with adverse health outcomes, including impaired lung function, exacerbation of asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease and impacts on the cardiovascular system that may lead to hospitalization and premature death.

Ambient air quality affects not only individuals with heart and breathing problems but also pregnant women, the very young and the elderly. On October 17, 2013 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization, declared that it has classified outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1).   A causal relationship was observed between outdoor air pollution exposure and lung cancer, as was a positive association with an increased risk of bladder cancer from such exposure (World Health Organization, http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/pdf/pr221_E.pdf).

While individual risk to ambient air pollution is relatively small, poor air quality impacts large exposed population. Recent research from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study (GBD) has shown that four of the top five chronic diseases affected by air pollution include ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, lower respiratory infections, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders.

With funding support by Health Canada, the UBC School of Population and Public Health and leading air pollution and health experts developed a free, on demand, accredited web-based course that featured multimedia content and a comprehensive overview on air pollution and health effects.  Topics covered include commonly measured air pollutants and their sources; health effects associated with short- and long-term exposure to air pollution, and how air pollution is a contributing risk factor to chronic diseases; use of the AQHI to advise patients/clients on reducing exposure and mitigating effects from air pollution.

After completion of this course, physicians and other health professionals can become better informed on air quality and health effects, and be better able to advise patients and the public to help them reduce their exposure to air pollution.


Funding from Health Canada ended on January 31, 2016. UBC School of Population and Public Health is offering this course for a limited period, now extended until December 31, 2017. This course remains free of charge.

Continuation of the course beyond this date will be determined at that time. If you feel this course offers education value and would like its availability continued, please let us know.



To begin course enrollment:

Please fill in the registration form below with a UBC Campus-Wide Login (CWL) name.   If you do not have a UBC CWL account, please click on the banner below for UBC CWL account sign-up instructions.  You will receive an email when your course enrolment has been processed and be sent a notification to begin the course.



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To proceed with course enrollment, please follow these steps:
Step 1: Sign up for UBC CWL account

Sign up here.  Please select BASIC account. (see sample).

After completing the CWL sign-up steps, you will receive an email from UBC IT Services with the subject line: CWL registration.  An activation link is sent in the email and you will be asked to click on the activation link. (see sample).

Please retain your login name and password – both will be required for account activation.

N.B. You will have 72 hours to activate your CWL account before it is removed from the system.

If you have trouble registering for CWL, please read through the CWL Sign Up Help here or contact the IT Service Centre.

Step 2: Enroll in course Fill in the course registration form below.
Step 3: Access the course

Log into your Connect course with your CWL and password at http://connect.ubc.ca.

For more information on how to log in and log out, click here


Have questions about the course enrollment procedure? Please contact Lydia Ma, Continuing Education Director/Project Manager.  Tel:  604.822.9599

This course has been approved for the following types of continuing education credits:


Accreditation - For Physicians
College of Family Physicians of Canada

This program has been accredited by the College of Family Physicians of Canada for up to 3 Mainpro-M1 credits.

* To July 22, 2016 only*

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada Accredited Group Learning Activity (Section 1) for up to 3.0 Section 1 credits as defined by the Maintenance of Certification program of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada expired as at January 31, 2016, the date of project adjournment. Sorry, no new MOC Section 1 credits will be available.


Accreditation - For Other Health Professionals
College and Association of Respiratory Therapists of Alberta One (1) continuing competency hour for each hour of online learning.
Manitoba Association of Registered Respiratory Therapists One (1) continuing competency hour for each hour of online learning.
College of Respiratory Therapists of Ontario This course would be an appropriate learning activity to be included in various quality assurance programs or CE credits for Respiratory Therapists who have identified a related learning goal.
Nova Scotia College of Respiratory Therapists One (1) credit hour for each hour of online learning.
New Brunswick Association of Respiratory Therapists  One (1) point for each hour of the course.
Ordre professionnel des inhalothérapeutes du Québec (OPIQ) Two (2) continuing education hours for the completion of the course.
Canadian Nurses Association As part of their activities to maintain continued competency to practice, registered nurses may report participation in this course and the application of learning outcomes in their learning plan section of their annual self-assessment. In addition, RNs considering using this course as part of their continuous learning (CL) activities for CNA Certification Renewal should consult the CNA Certification Program renewal CL guidelines to ensure that this course meets the CL requirements. Nurses can find information about the CNA Certification Program at http://www.cna-aiic.ca/en/professional-development/specialty-certification/
Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors  One (1) PDH for each hour of online learning.  Approval number CPC-2012-05


The American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH) and the Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (BCRSP) had previously approved this course for certification maintenance.  However, ABIH and BCRSP no longer issue approval numbers.  Completion of this course may still be eligible for ABIH CM points and BCRSP CMPs, respectively.  Certificants are advised to review the websites of ABIH and BCRSP for more information.


*Accreditation for other health professionals will be posted here as soon as they become available.